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Canmore artist lights up Irish capital with PULSE

Pinching herself, the Irish-born artist swelled with pride when she saw her completed artwork for the first time.

DUBLIN, Ireland – While flying into Dublin’s airport in the night sky, Alva Gallagher took a look out of her passenger window and could hardly believe her eyes.

Down below, the Canmore-based artist’s newest work, PULSE, an immersive and interactive light installation was glowing brightly on the City Quay along the south bank of River Liffey, one of the most popular area’s in Ireland’s capital.

“I was like ‘Oh my God, you can see it,’” said Gallagher. "l thought there would be a few buildings in the way, but from the angle I came in on this time you could see it and I was like that’s crazy.”

Pinching herself, the Irish-born artist swelled with pride when she saw her completed artwork for the first time.

Built in Ireland, PULSE gets its sparkle from more than 20,000 LED lights. By day, the structure impressively stands at the Dublin Docklands. At dusk every evening, the steel structure comes to life, responding to movement, with light displays that mimic historic star constellations for travellers by sea.

Gallagher wanted the shape of the piece to “capture the essence of the dockers’ legacy, depicting the timeless image of their net lines cast in suspended motion.”

The multi-coloured lights can imitate the Pole Star constellations, aurora borealis and shooting stars.

“The minute you walk inside under the net, it has a motion response to the sensors inside it and it’ll just trigger this light show,” said Gallagher.

Located in a prominent spot in Dublin – a place of bragging rights among artists – the structure stands on six polished steel beams that hold a delicate mesh canopy that resembles a net.

With her work represented in galleries around the globe, Gallagher’s latest piece has a footprint of 30 square metres and is by far the biggest public art she’s created.

Formerly unveiled this past October, the artist said the artwork is “pretty up there for me now” as one of her top, most precious pieces.

“It’s only kind of hit me recently because you just throw yourself into work,” said Gallagher.

The public reveal even had the newly elected Lord Mayor of Dublin, Daithí de Róiste, in attendance, who said:

“I’m very excited to be launching this stunning new sculpture for Dublin's Docklands. Aptly named PULSE, this innovative artwork will illuminate the south side of the Liffey intriguing onlookers with its mesmerizing glow. What truly sets this sculpture apart is its interactive nature, allowing the public to engage with the installation. It’s a really fun piece and it showcases the artist's creativity and ingenuity. We extend our congratulations for their remarkable achievement.”

For her next piece, Gallagher’s creative mind is already spinning. Looking at the size of PULSE, the artist wants to go even bigger.

Jordan Small

About the Author: Jordan Small

An award-winning reporter, Jordan Small has covered sports, the arts, and news in the Bow Valley since 2014. Originally from Barrie, Ont., Jordan has lived in Alberta since 2013.
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